Pennsylvania AG Found Guilty on Nine Criminal Charges

(The Washington Post) -

Calls for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane to immediately resign are mounting after the first-term Democrat was found guilty late Monday of nine criminal charges, including two felony perjury charges.

Kane, who was elected in 2012, was accused of leaking information to the media about a 2009 grand jury probe in order to get back at Frank Fina, a political rival and former state prosecutor.

Prosecutors said Kane masterminded the leak and a subsequent cover-up — and then lied to a grand jury about it.

After hearing days of dramatic testimony, a 12-person jury in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County agreed with prosecutors, finding Kane guilty of two counts of felony perjury, as well as obstruction, false swearing and other misdemeanor charges.

Kane, 50, faces up to seven years in prison on each of the felony perjury charges. Under state law, she must resign by the day of her sentencing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It seemed we had somebody who felt she was above the law,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told reporters outside the courtroom after the verdict was delivered. “This was about the defendant going before a grand jury in Montgomery County and lying to that grand jury. The evidence was overwhelming in that regard.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called it a “sad day” for the state and said “there should be no question” Kane should resign immediately, according to PennLive.com.

Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry joined the chorus of those denouncing Kane’s actions.

“What she did while she was the attorney general, the fact she would commit criminal acts while the top prosecutor, is a disgrace,” Henry said after the verdict.

Kane showed little emotion as the verdict was read, according to The Associated Press. Video of her leaving the courtroom showed her walking briskly, flanked by her lawyers; she looked straight ahead, except to occasionally check a phone in her hand.

Kane will be sentenced within 90 days. Her defense attorneys said they will appeal and that Kane will decide whether to resign in the coming days.

“The conviction on all counts was a crushing blow — I’m not going to say otherwise,” said Gerald Shargel, a lawyer for Kane.

The defense intentionally did not have Kane testify. Nor did her legal team call witnesses over the six days of the trial.

“It’s a strategy,” Shargel said. “Obviously we thought that it would work, but I’ll be the first person to say we were wrong.”

Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy threatened to jail Kane if there was evidence of retaliation against witnesses who had testified against her, including two of Kane’s former aides.

Demchick-Alloy also took Kane’s passport, implying she was a flight risk, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The conviction seemed the final career fall for the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer. Once considered a rising star in Pennsylvania politics, Kane was the first Democrat and first woman elected as the state’s top lawyer. (It became an elected position in 1980.)

“It’s the role of the attorney general to be an independently elected voice,” Kane said in 2012, the day after winning the state attorney general’s race. “People see politics as a close-knit, good ol’ boy network, and I want to change that starting Day One.”

Pennsylvania voters will elect a new attorney general in November, to be sworn in on Jan. 17, 2017.

Kane, who has lost her law license, is not running for re-election.

As The Post reported in 2013, Kane beat establishment figures in both her own party and the GOP to become the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.

She defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., in the party primary, despite his endorsements from union officials and many of the state’s elected Democrats. President Bill Clinton did a fundraiser for Kane, who had worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid; Murphy responded by securing the endorsement of Obama adviser David Axelrod.

In 2013, during a training seminar for female candidates sponsored by a liberal political action committee, Kane noted that politics is a rough-and-tumble business.

She warned other political aspirants that running for office “is a dirty business, there is no doubt.”